Anfal and Halabja Genocide: Reversing ethnic cleansing and doing justice to the victims in Iraqi Kurdistan”
Posted by sarkout on April 20 2009 14:49:14 - By Karim Salih12/03/2009 00:00:00
Speech by Karim Salih, at the 21st Annual Commemoration of the Chemical Attack on Halabja, organised by Kurdocide Watch - CHAK, held at the Committee Room, British Houses of Parliament, London, 10 March 2009.

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Anfal and Halabja Genocide: Reversing ethnic cleansing and doing justice to the victims in Iraqi Kurdistan” - By Karim Salih12/03/2009 00:00:00
Speech by Karim Salih, at the 21st Annual Commemoration of the Chemical Attack on Halabja, organised by Kurdocide Watch - CHAK, held at the Committee Room, British Houses of Parliament, London, 10 March 2009.

Honourable Members of Parliament, distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen,

I am greatly honoured to have the opportunity to address you on this solemn occasion, the annual commemoration of the victims of Halabja and Anfal genocide.

It has been authoritatively established by the Iraqi High Tribunal that the genocide against the Kurds in 1987-88 was not a by-product of the 1980-88 Iraq – Iran war. It was contemplated, theorised and designated as necessary by the Arab nationalist Baathists well before they even first seized power in 1963.

Understanding the Baath ideology is the key to understanding how ethnic animosities in Iraq degenerated into the Kurdish genocide. The ideology of the Arab Baath Socialist Party is based essentially on a burning faith in racial superiority of the Arab Nation. The Kurds have been viewed as a “destructive internal enemy” and agents of imperialism and Zionism. As far back as 1939, Sami Shawkat, the Baath co-founder and theorist, who once held the sensitive position of Iraq’s Education Minister, summed up the Baathist view succinctly:

“Our nation, like all nations, has enemies…internal and external. Usually the internal enemy is more destructive than the external one. No nation has had a real renaissance without first of all defeating and totally uprooting this internal enemy from its foundations.”

From the first days of their 1963 coup, the Baathists embarked upon systematic Arabisation, mass murders, deportations and the destruction of Kurdish villages. When the conditions were suitable, the Baathists, who felt their authority was threatened in Kurdistan during the Iraq – Iran war, proceeded to “the final solution” of the Kurdish problem.

They chose to commit genocide because they had the means to do it and judging by international indifference to their preceding brutalities they expected that they could get away with it.

Like the Jewish Holocaust the Anfal genocide was executed in a methodical and systematic fashion. The Baathists like the Nazis were obsessed with bureaucratic procedures. Documents proliferated by the Iraqi military and security forces during the Anfal campaign may surpass the Nazi documents captured in 1945. Like the Nazis, the Baathists tended to use euphemism. They both executed their final solution projects by using same process of definition, concentration or seizure, and annihilation of the victims. The Baathists and the Nazis also shared, not surprisingly, the same disregard for the international public opinion.

The international community failed to prevent Halabja and Anfal genocide as it had failed to act to stop Holocaust and pledged never again in its aftermath. Even now we sadly are justified to have little faith in that genocide will not happen again.

While the establishment of the Iraqi High Tribunal, a relevantly fair constitution and the free elections and some other promising signs show us the right way ahead, the challenges remain formidable, and they remain immediate. The Iraqi government and indeed the Kurdistan Regional Government have failed up to this day to ease the physical and psychological suffering of the survivors.

The normalisation in Kirkuk and the other areas which bore the brunt of Anfal and successive waves of ethnic cleansing remains the most pressing issue in Iraq. A process which has been enshrined in Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution calls for normalisation with compensation to move Arab settlers back to their original areas and to return rightful inhabitants to their homes. A census and referendum on whether or not to join the Kurdistan Region are to follow this process.

A commitment to fully implement normalisation in compliance with this constitutional provision is a litmus test for the Iraqi politicians to show that they take national reconciliation seriously and that they are determined to open a new page in fraternity.

Full and clear implementation of the prescribed normalisation is an essential prerequisite for the Kurds and other Iraqis to come to terms with the unspeakable brutalities committed during the Baathists’ 35-year reign of power. To reverse what ethnic cleansing has imposed in Iraqi Kurdistan will also send a powerful massage to the region and the world that no ethnic group can benefit from the proceeds of the crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

It is the international communities’ responsibility to actively encourage reconciliation and peaceful solution of the Iraqi – Kurdish current and future disputes. The western countries who unceasingly supplied Saddam with chemicals bear a measure of responsibility possibly even for genocide. They should help make normalisation a physical reality by exerting political pressure on Baghdad, participate in rebuilding Halabja and the other affected areas and provide after-care support for the survivors by way of compensation.

The Halabja’s greatest lesson is that as genocide can be predicted, it can be prevented. The balance of power during the Iraq – Iran war was so delicate and the western support to Iraq was, literally, such a matter of life and death, the Iraqi regime would not have dared to commit Halabja genocide had it expected any adverse international reaction, be it that a temporary suspension of the western support may follow.

As Halabja bears witness to the international community’s failure of preventing repression and genocide, it should, therefore, be a reminder that international active solidarity can and must prevent such heinous brutalities.

Anne Frank the young Jewish girl and a victim of Holocaust inscribed in her diary in her hideout, that ““I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart”. The Kurdish survivors despite the severity of the Ba’athists’ atrocities have not lost hope in the humanity and goodness of heart that Anne talked about. They still believe in a peaceful coexistence with the Arabs and the other Iraqi components in a democratic Iraq. A sincere national reconciliation is though not an easy task is the only reasonable option for all parties.

To the extent that evil regimes have so far been able to commit crimes of genocide and other serious violations of human rights, it is because the international community has allowed them to do so.

For a world without genocide and ethnic cleansing let us resolve to fight the evil ideologies of racial superiority at all levels and in all areas, especially the education system.

Let us together find ways to support the normalisation process in Iraq to peacefully reverse the Baathists’ brutal ethnic cleansing and do justice to its victims.

Together, let us all resolve not to allow the perpetrators of the Anfal and Halabja genocide to get away with such monstrous crimes.

Together, let us all through universal active solidarity resolve to forever banish the vicious shadow Genocide and ethnic cleansing have cast on the humankind.

Thank you

Karim Salih, LLM, a freelance human rights researche - By Karim Salih12/03/2009 00:00:00